Mar 23, 2008
I was obsessed with the television antennas all over Morocco. They were strange looking devices from another era. I wonder what kind of shows they watch? Kojak? Maybe. The Flintstones? Could be. It would have to be old shows, it makes sense with those ancient television devices duck taped to all the roofs. The antenna gave off a kind of religious vibe too. They made the buildings look like churches. I'm sure they didn't mean for that to happen. They always had signs in English outside of the mosques. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter. Made me want to go watch some television.
The best part of the day was lunch. About one hundred yards from our hotel was the docks where the fishing boats all came in. There are these tiny little outdoor grills. Little picnic tables are set up right beside them. A big display with the fish caught that day is laid out for you to choose your lunch from. The second it got close to lunch Yun and I would scamper down there. We seemed to be first everyday. I would suck down a beautiful tomato salad followed by my fish selection and an Arabian Coca-Cola. I think about those lunches and count the days until I return.
Brilliant little sleepy fishing village. I fell in love with the joint. We stayed in a lovely little hotel with a great view. Yun and I used to get a drink by the fireplace in the bar slash lounge every night. It was small and quaint but the smoke never went up the chimney. There was too much wind by the ocean so the smoke would just fill the bar. It would take a bit to adjust to it. I always went to bed smelling like I was camping. All the buildings are whitewashed with blue shutters. I've been getting a lot of letters from friends who knew me many years ago and it is making me very happy.
Yun and I hired a taxi to take us the two hours to the beach town of Essouira. We heard it was a boring drive but I dug it. Parts of it reminded me of driving through Mexico. They have little road side cantinas with Coca Cola signs and umbrellas over picnic tables. Lots of sheep and donkeys and an occasional camel thrown in. We passed the famous argon trees and also plenty of almond and olives too. Our driver, Hamid was shocked when I showed him the drawing I had done. He was totally unaware I was doing it. I mailed him copies of it like I said I would.
Yun and I had the pleasure of being caught in a sand storm. We were on a terrace overlooking he main square. It was early afternoon when suddenly the sky grew ominously dark. You could see the storm approaching. The wind picked up like crazy. No one really moved at all. It was as if this happens all the time. At one point it felt like we were in the middle of a fire. We couldn't see five feet in front of us. Sand was blowing everywhere. There was lots of lightning to go with the show and there was some rain mixed in also. Finally we had enough and went for shelter. You couldn't see down the little alleyway where we were staying. Now I understand why the Berbers wrap their faces in scarfs. Makes sense to me now.
Today is my birthday. I've changed the look of my blog. The photos are now much larger so it will be easier to read my little writings in the drawings. I upgraded to the new blogger finally. The spice market was my favorite place in Marrakesh. Yun and I met the owner of one of the shops. He spent a lot of time explaining all the different spices to us. He sold me some natural colors to paint with. Bugs crushed up into powdered form to get the color red. All different types of flowers reduced to powder and when you add water, the vibrant colors come to life. I have to try them out soon. He told us that in the past year, Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and Leo DeCaprio had all been to the market. Now you can add me to the list.
People are always praying in Marrakesh. The Muslims pray five times a day starting at five in the morning. We were staying literally one door away from a temple. So when the prays started each morning I was basically right in the middle of the action. It was quite soothing actually. I always looked forward to it. Yun and I used to our advantage. when I would draw in the afternoon, Yun would say, meet me at such and such a place when the afternoon prayers begin. When those loudspeakers would start to crackle I knew it was time to go meet her. This door I drew was right next to a temple also. The head guy stool vigil out in the street intensely watching me draw. A store keeper brought me some mint tea while I was painting. He told me not to take any photos of the praying because they don't take to kind to it. No problemo. He said they dig my drawing though. I always obey the law of the streets.
There is a huge main square in Marrakesh. Every evening food stalls spring up all over it. Grills are smoking all kinds of delicious meats. Salads are plentiful. Teacups are stacked with sugar cubes and mint leaves in them. The air smells fantastic. The men that work the stalls hustle people to come and eat at their picnic tables. Even though they speak French, they have memorized some English phrases that are very funny to hear them say. If you walk away from them they say, "see you later alligator." Or they say "try our food, it's bloody good." Some are great salesmen and Yun and I would always eat at the place with the most entertaining pitchman.
This is the first country I've been to that there was no McDonalds, Starbucks or KFC. Amazing. I didn't think that was possible but apparently these guys have done it. I pray they are never allowed into this place. That was destroy it instantly. I can't picture passing a beautiful old spice souk and then spotting a 7eleven. The one thing they do have is tons of dentists. There are signs on like every street. The only thing is everyone has bad teeth or teeth missing. Are the dentists really fronts for something else? Are they just bad dentists. They are everywhere though. I have to figure that mystery out the next time I go.
Mar 21, 2008
When we were in Marrakesh, Yun wanted to buy some rugs. She found out about a place that was a cooperative. It was run by a guy named Omar. He spoke just about every language in the world. He constantly praised us. He told Yun how beautiful her eyes were over and over. He did everything in such a funny way. We were always hysterical laughing with the guy. He was priceless and he knew it. He memorized every detail about each rug, which Berber family in the mountains had made which rug. Each one was hand made and took a few months. He told us what each symbol meant. It was his standard speil but it was no less genius each time he spoke. He would make a brilliant actor. He sold us three rugs and we were happy to do business with him. Yun bartered away and I stayed out of it because I am a push over. Omar loved every second. The most amazing thing was when Yun and I arrived home a few days later, the rugs were already at our apartment. For such a backwards country, they sure do know about shipping. DHL.
Mar 19, 2008
We landed in Casablanca and then took a 40 minute shuttle to The Kesh. That's Marrakesh. The place we were staying at was supposed to meet us at the airport and take us to our Riad. Of course no one showed up. So we just got ourselves a cab. The guy couldn't drive into where we were staying because cars aren't allowed, so he just dumped us on the street. I don't know if any of you have ever been there but it's pretty intense to be dumped onto the street. We were totally lost, nothing is marked and we couldn't speak the language. I was in heaven. A kid tried to help us but he didn't know where the hell we were staying. Finally we walked into a little place and met a dude named Mohammed. Everyone is named Muhammed by the way. He called the riad we were staying and they had to send someone on foot to fetch us. He weaved us through the streets and alleyways past donkeys and chickens. There is no way on earth we could have ever found our riad. It would have been impossible. When we stepped inside, our place was glorious. It was a great beginning to a fantastic trip.
Mar 16, 2008
Moroccans are very poor people but they are proud and quite happy. I noticed in the local deli, which is about the size of a broom closet. I'm not joking it really is about the size of a broom closet. there is just a small window that looks onto the narrow street. Kids can buy candy or soda. They also sell cigarettes even though Muslims shouldn't smoke. I also noticed that most people only buy one cigarette at a time. A funny thing happened to Yun and I several times. If it hadn't happened a few times I would have thought it was a fluke. If you get lost in Marrakesh, which happened a few times, a kid will gladly take you to where you want to be for a tip. the streets a terribly marked and it is a crazy maze. So it works out for everyone. The tourists have the joy of being hopelessly lost in a strange land and the kids get to make a few bucks. When this first happened to us I had no Moroccan money on me so I offered the kid some american dollars. He refused and said it was no good but he wanted to know if I had Euros. I said no, it was all I had. I gave it to him but he said it was useless and gave it back and left. Lie I said if it didn't happen a couple of more times I wouldn't have believed it. It was like Mexican pesos or something. I know George Bush loves to tout how great he's done with our economy with his useless tax cuts for rich people and all but I'll take the word of an eight year beggar in the streets of Morroco. I'm glad he's leaving office soon because I don't think the dollar can withstand any more of his financial prowess.